The Faith of Jesus - Rightly Dividing

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Rightly Dividing

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Our first reference will be the phrase “the faith of God,” which in actuality is just a group of words removed from the context of their sentence and chapter.

Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

To interpret this verse you have to remember what was just stated in the previous chapter. Chapter two is a discourse on believing and non-believing Jews keeping or not keeping the law and that it will not affect the judgments of God.

Romans 2:12-13 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Looking at verse 3 in light of chapter 2 we see that it is a contrast between belief and unbelief.

Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

It is asking if the unbelief of some in “the oracles of God,” God’s word, will void the belief that others have in it.

Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

Will their faith in God’s word be useless or without effect because someone else does not believe. The words “faith of God” here have the same meaning as in Titus.

Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

Will the unbelief of some in God’s word make void the faith/belief of God’s elect in his word? In accordance with the definition and use of the word “faith” in the Scriptures described in the previous chapters and keeping with the context that this passage is found in, this is the only interpretation that is biblically sound. To place any other interpretation on those words is against every precept of “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

There are several other references to which this error is applied.

Galatians 2:20 the faith of the Son of God

Ephesians 3:12 the faith of him

James 2:1 the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

We would interpret the above the same as these below.

Romans 4:16 ...but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Philippians 1:27 ...the faith of the gospel;

Colossians 2:12 ...through the faith of the operation of God,...

Is Abraham imputing faith to us or is it our faith like Abraham’s, believing God? Is the gospel exercising faith or is it our faith in the gospel? Does the operation of God have faith or is it our faith in the operation? Clearly, this erroneous interpretation cannot be applied consistently and therefore must be suspect and rightfully questioned.

This false interpretation is often showcased with the use of Galatians 2:15-16. It is again the product of wrongly dividing the word of truth by taking the group of words “the faith of Jesus Christ” out of their context.

Look at Galatians 2:15-16, the two verses contain one sentence. We can break this sentence down without too much trouble.

Galatians 2:15-16 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Here again, the only way to interpret the words “the faith of Jesus Christ” as Christ having faith is to take them out of the context of their sentence. By breaking this sentence down by taking all the modifiers out we will be left with a simple sentence of a subject, verb and the proper complete thought.

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Removing the modifiers leaves just the simple sentence of a subject being “We” and the verb “have believed.” Diagramming the sentence is easy enough.

We | have believed

The complete thought of the sentence is that they, the Jews, have believed something, put their faith in something. The Jews are the doers of the action.

The rest of the sentence contained in these two verses are modifiers either modifying the subject “we,” the verb “have believed,” and adding to and explaining the complete thought of “We have believed” or we have put our faith in something. They are going to tell us who “we” are and what and why “we” are believing.

Adding the modifiers back in for the subject first; “We” is modified to explain exactly who “We” is:

  • We are Jews
    • by nature
    • not sinners of the Gentiles
  • knowing that a man is justified
    • not by the works
      • of the law
    • but by the faith
      • of Jesus Christ

We see then that the subject “We” of the sentence are natural born Jews and not Gentile converts. Jews who are knowing that Justification is not in keeping the law but by faith.

  • The verb “have believed” is modified by:

  • We have believed
    • in Jesus Christ
  • that we might be justified
    • by the faith
      • of Christ,
    • not by the works
      • of the law

We have the same phrasing as “the faith of Jesus Christ” in the phrase “the works of the law.” Is it the works that the law is doing on our behalf? Or is it the work “We,” the Jews, are doing in relation to the law? It is the works the Jews are doing in relation to the law. So it is with faith, it is their faith in or in relation to Jesus Christ, not Christ’s faith that justifies them. In relation to is a definition of “of,” not by the works (in relation) to the law.

It is understandable that studying, especially grammar, can be tedious work. Understanding what the Bible says requires it.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 ...and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Another point that is good to remember is that verse numbers are not part of grammar and should not be taken into account in dividing and diagramming a sentence. They do serve an important role in aiding the study of the Scriptures in that they separate thoughts. A sentence has to have at least one complete thought but can have sub-thoughts combining to make that complete thought.

There are sentences in the New Testament that contain more than two hundred words, Colossians 1:21-29 as an example. These verses are often misread and misinterpreted. It may be a bit of effort to exercise proper grammar but it is worth it to ensure you are correctly interpreting and understanding God’s word.

Proverbs 2:3-5 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

God never meant for everything in the Scriptures to be easy to understand. He would like to see some effort on our parts, some desire, to know and understand him.


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